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[cdt-l] CDT Planning Info - Towns
These are our observations about the town stops during our 1999 thruhike
– and about a few places we went back to afterward or didn’t go to but know
about from other sources. This may give you a ‘feel’ for the
towns, etc. but keep in mind that ALL of this information is subject to
change. Businesses change or fail and may not be replaced; people move, die
or become disillusioned by rude or ungrateful hikers; you may not be able to
get to a particular town; or they may not have what you want or need. In
any case, you’ll find anything you want to be more expensive than you like.
The standard guarantee applies to the accuracy of this information – four
hours or sundown, whichever comes first. :-)
Montana / Idaho –---
Waterton Lakes, B.C. – is a small town on the Canadian side of the border.
There are restaurants, lodging and a campground. Other services are
probably available, dependent on season but we didn’t go looking for them.
This is a ‘tourist” town.
East Glacier Park, MT – We stayed at Mark Howser’s Whistling Swan Motel both
ways – headed north while we got a boot problem resolved and got the Park
permit, and then again while we were waiting for transportation to get back
to Warm Springs so we could continue south. Mark thruhiked the AT in 1992
and he’s ‘hiker-friendly’. East Glacier has several motels and 2 hiker
hostels, a decent (but small) grocery, laundromat, several restaurants, post
office, an ATM at the Lodge, transportation to Waterton Lakes, Canada and
Amtrak access. Of course,there’s also East Glacier Lodge, beautiful but
expensive. The chili at Mark’s Two Medicine Grille was the best we found on
the CDT – as were his huckleberry milk shakes. Mark might also be able to
find you some Coleman fuel – if you ask nicely. Amtrak took us from East
Glacier to Shelby, where we caught the Rimrock Stage bus to Butte and Warm
Benchmark Ranch – was different. It’s a very small ranch resort. Our
maildrop was there but we had to search for someone to get it for us. We got
there on a Sunday afternoon in early season when no ‘guests’ were there, so
Beverly had gone into town. Eventually someone told her we were at the
Ranch and she came back out (bearing salad fixin’s and ice cream). We got
showers, rented a cabin, ate dinner and repacked for the Bob Marshall
Wilderness. We bought some Coleman fuel from the handyman/hostler, but I
don’t know if I would count on that. There is no phone. We left early the
next morning. Note: she applies only part of the ‘package fee’ to cabin
Lincoln, MT – hitching in and out wasn’t bad at all (about ½ hour each way).
Lincoln has motels, a laundromat, camping at the local park, ATM,
restaurants(but don’t bother with the pizza) – even Internet access at the
library. There’s a hiker register at the Post Office that goes back 20 years
or more. Lincoln was a nice stop – friendly people and good food. It's
fairly compact. Again equipment problems kept us there a second night (tent
and water filter). I left a failed water filter there (Pur Hiker). I also
left most of a gallon of Coleman fuel at the hardware store – they said
they’d keep it for future hikers.
Helena, MT – We stayed at one of the many motels in town and used a
taxi(expensive) to get back to the trail the next day. Helena has a good
outdoor shop, lots of motels and restaurants, supermarkets, post office,
shoe repair – anything a thruhiker might need including a bus system that’s
slow, but cheap. We didn’t investigate Internet access, but presumably the
library would have it.
Frontiertown/McDonald Pass – is an interesting place to visit. This was our
first maildrop and I believe we were Richard Peg’s first thruhikers –
although probably not the last. He was intrigued by those who
were ‘intrepid’ enough to attempt this hike. But call first if you’re going
to do a maildrop there (406.449.3031). He has a couple of restaurants, one
steak and one good Italian, which are only open at night. He even offered
us a place to stay for the night. Unfortunately, we had to go into Helena,
MT (about 30 miles from MacDonald Pass) because of equipment problems (stove
and water filter). He drove us into town, so I can’t comment on the
difficulty of hitchhiking here.
Warm Springs, MT – has a VERY small and VERY limited grocery with VERY
limited hours. It also has a bar which apparently closes at sundown – or
when the last customer leaves. The bar owner allowed us to set up our tents
on his lawn in back of the bar, but again – ask nicely. He doesn’t owe it
to anyone – even to thruhikers. You can get water there though.
Butte, MT – is one of the larger towns in Montana – and it’s not really all
that big. But it does have motels, restaurants, supermarket, post office,
Anaconda, MT – has motels, restaurants, a laundromat, post office, an ATM, 2
large supermarkets, and at least one smaller grocery, as well as Internet
access at the library. The lady at the post office was very
‘hiker-friendly’. We stayed at the Marcus Daly Motel and the owner gave us
a ride to Safeway, waited for us and drove us back to the
motel. It’s a ‘hiker-friendly’ town, though the grocery stores are each
about a mile from the Post Office, one in each direction.
Wisdom – is accessed from Chief Joseph Pass. It was a tough hitch – over 3
hours to get into town and other hikers had much the same experience.
Wisdom has 2 motels (one of which is of the really “cheap” variety), a small
grocery (be very creative), a laundromat (although the dryers don’t dry),
post office, 2 restaurants (one of which had the best cinnamon rolls in
Montana), and a bar that actually has good pizza. Wisdom also had the most
prolific mosquito population of any town we visited. Keep in mind that
Wisdom is a ‘working’ cattle/horse town. Tourists and hikers are considered
nothing more than an outside source of income. For available services and
ease of access, Salmon, ID would be a better choice for a thruhiker.
Salmon, ID – our stay here was unplanned, accidental (literally) and
limited. We spent nearly all our time at the Salmon Valley Baptist Church
where Ginny was recuperating. But we did explore enough to know that Salmon
has at least one motel, a large supermarket, ATM, outdoor stores, several
restaurants, laundromat, medical facilities, a movie theater and a post
office. Our entry and exit from Salmon was unusual – Bob and Sue Martin
drove us directly to the Divide above Jahnke Lake, so we can’t comment on
the hitch either from or to Chief Joseph Pass.
Leadore, ID – was an easy hitch from Bannock Pass in that the first truck
picked us up – but it was over 2 hours before that truck came along. Not a
heavily traveled road. Leadore is an old mining town. It has 2 small
groceries, a post office, gas station, 2 restaurants (one of which is not
always open), a laundromat, a Forest Service office, a motel (3 rooms) that
was full when we got there. The grocery across the street from the motel
has a grassy area where we camped ($1 per night) and a shower ($1 each – no
soap or towels). The Leadore post office also has a hiker register.
There’s free camping at a city park north of town, but we didn’t investigate
that. The town is compact and easy to get around. Leaving Leadore was easy
for us – we met Barry Miller (a USFS employee who’s also a member of SVBC
and had heard about us at church the previous Sunday). He took us back to
the trail on his lunch break.
Lima, MT – was not on our original schedule, but it looked a lot easier to
resupply there than to carry 10 days food, so we sent a maildrop from
Leadore. Lima is hard to get to – the trail runs 4 miles south of Monida,
which is the nearest Interstate access. Lima is a 16 mile hitch north of
Monida, which gets (maybe) 6 vehicles per day using that exit. In order to
get to Lima in less than 6 days (we didn’t have that much food), we had to
actually get ON the Interstate to hitch. Lima has a post office (friendly
postmistress), a gas station/mini-mart, a restaurant with a couple cabins,
and a motel. There was another restaurant and grocery in town, but they’ve
Mack’s Inn, ID – is very small, but it was a total zoo when we got there.
It’s a resort and this was the height of tourist season, so there were no
motel rooms. But they have a campground, gas station/mini-mart, laundromat,
post office (with a trail register), motel (if you can get a room), a
restaurant and a dinner theater. There are also a few groceries and an ATM
at the resort office. We walked into and out of Mack’s Inn because we
followed Jim Wolf’s route. The dinner theater was good (and included an AYCE
dinner). For those so inclined, there are also the resort activities –
fishing, canoeing, rafting, etc. It’s very compact and easy to get around. I
would recommend a mail drop here, though you could probably buy enough to
get you into Yellowstone, in a pinch. Or you could hitch 12 miles or so to
West Yellowstone for supplies.
West Yellowstone, WY – We didn’t go there, but it’s a tourist center and
reportedly has “all services” including an outdoor store.
Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park – has a post office, several
reasonably good groceries and restaurants, an ATM, VERY limited backpacking
equipment, lots of interesting sights to see and LOTS of tourists. The Park
uses a reservation system for backcountry camping. Call from Togwotee Pass
if you’re headed north or from Lima if you’re headed south – they will take
phone reservations from thruhikers. The phone number for the backcountry
office is 307-344-2160 or 307-344-2163. But watch what they give you – they
gave us a 28 mile day.
The Cowboy Resort at Togwotee Pass – accepts maildrops. But ours didn’t
show up there, which may have been for the best. The Lodge has a good
restaurant, gas station, VERY small grocery and very expensive cabins. It
was a really hard hitch into Dubois. We got into town with the help of a
friend of one of the waitresses at the restaurant. Tom runs dog sleds in
winter (he keeps about 85 dogs) and works at the resort in the summer.
Dubois, WY – is a tourist town. Lots of motels, restaurants, a laundromat,
fairly good grocery, Internet access at the library, lots of tourist shops,
a book store, and a post office in the continental US. Overnight service is
NOT available in Dubois except by FedEx. The owner of the Cowboy Café (and
his son) thruhiked the AT a couple years ago. The Cowboy Café puts out some
really good food – including a killer pie a la mode. Hitching out was
somewhat easier but still took about an hour. The guy who picked us up was
a local who had been on the city planning board for 6 years but was moving
to Jackson because he was opening a high-dollar, high-class restaurant there
in December. Dubois is a better stop than Togwotee Lodge. It is relatively
compact and easy to get around.
Pinedale, WY – Again, we didn’t go there, but it may be a better stop than
either Dubois or Togwotee Lodge. Pinedale reportedly has all services
including an outdoor shop. There’s also a shuttle that runs to three
different trailheads in the Wind River Range – although it may be expensive.
Big Sandy Lodge – was a long stretch through the Wind River Range from
Togwotee Pass. We were told at first that our mail drop wasn’t there, but
Tim found it when he checked again – it was hidden in the back of the pile.
We got there early (noon), took a shower ($7.50 ea.), camped out across the
lake (free), ate dinner ($12 ea.) and breakfast ($6 ea.) and left the next
morning. The ‘package fee’ ($20) was applied to our bill. There might be
cabins available, but they’re expensive. Tim sold us some cheese and gave
us some Coleman fuel – but don’t count on the Coleman because he doesn’t
normally have any available. From Big Sandy we went south through the
Cirque of the Towers and the Popo Agie Wilderness.
South Pass City, WY – is at the south end of the Wind River Range and we
stopped at the Rock Shop about a mile up the highway for burgers and Pepsi
and water and beer (it was a really dry day). Then we bushwhacked
cross-country to get into BLM land and find a campsite. We were in South
Pass City by 0900 when they opened. It’s possible to send a mail drop here,
but don’t count on sending anything out. There is a register at the General
Store/Post Office. We took the tour of the historic site, Ginny got some
coffee and we got some soda and ice cream at the VERY small and limited
store in ‘town’. Reportedly, some of the locals have been Trail Angels to
some of the hikers, but we walked the 5 miles to Atlantic City.
Atlantic City, WY – we had lunch, got a cabin at the Atlantic City
Mercantile and found out that there was ‘no’ food to be bought here. The
Atlantic City Mercantile is NOT a store – it’s a bar, with lots of beer and
good, if limited, food. And it’s only open for lunch and dinner. The
Sagebrush Saloon is next door and serves breakfast and lunch. There’s
another B&B in town but we didn’t check it out. The other
‘services’ here consist of a public telephone. We managed to buy cheese and
bread from the saloon to fill in the lunch menu for the next couple days.
There is no post office here, but the Atlantic City Mercantile will hold
packages for hikers. There is also no fuel at either Atlantic City or at
South Pass City and the nearest gas station/ mini-mart is 38 miles away in
Lander, WY – We didn’t go here either – this is another town that reportedly
has “all services” including an outdoor shop. It’s definitely a better town
stop than South Pass/Atlantic City, which have no groceries, fuel or
laundry. But it’s also a long hitch.
Rawlins, WY – We took the BLM designated route around the northern edge of
the Great Basin and then down into Rawlins. It took us 4 days and 4 hours
from Atlantic City. The town has a post office, laundromat, library (which
may or may not have Internet access), a computer shop which does have
Internet access, lots of cheap motels, pharmacies, ATMs, a good grocery, and
enough restaurants to keep us fed, although most of the restaurants and some
of the stores in town close on weekends. There’s even a movie theater in
town for those so inclined. The town is spread out over a about 3 miles –
the supermarket, some motels, the movie theater, and some restaurants are on
the east side of town. The post office, library and downtown area are in
the middle and some motels, restaurants, a laundromat are on the west side
of town. It’s not set up for hikers, but its not an unfriendly town as
Wamsutter has been consistently reported to be.
Wamsutter, WY – by reputation (we didn’t go there) is NOT hiker friendly.
It’s strictly an industrial town and has little in the way of hiker
services. We’ve known a number of thruhikers who have gone there – none of
them have expressed any affection for the place.
Steamboat Springs, CO – is an expensive stop but has everything a thruhiker
might need, including several outdoor shops, ATM’s, a large grocery, post
office, restaurants, laundromat, motels and Internet access at the library.
And it has free transportation to get where you need to go. There are also
public hot springs – both free and paid. This is the first real ‘yuppy’
town headed southbound. It’s also one of the few with a movie theater.
Getting into town was an easy hitch out of Buffalo Pass – getting out could
be a little harder, but we can’t say for sure because we were given a ride
by the owner of the Nite’s Rest Motel.
Grand Lake, CO – has all necessary services including an outdoor shop,
laundromat, restaurants motels, and a hostel, but both groceries and the
post office are on the western edge of town. The groceries (2 of them) are
small but can be used for long term resupply. Shadowcliff hostel is one of
the best hostels we've run into anyplace. Grand Lake is a ‘walk-through’
town – and the hostel is about 30 yards off the trail. There’s also
Internet access at the library and a repertory theater for those so
Winter Park, CO -- is a possible resupply, but VERY expensive. It’s
basically a ski town for the very rich. We don’t qualify. But it has
everything a thruhiker might want (including a movie theater) and it’s not a
difficult hitch into town. Getting out was a little harder.
Silverthorn/Breckenridge, CO – is the last of the ‘yuppie’ areas. Both
towns have all services – again including outdoor shops and a free
transportation system to all the towns in the area – Silverthorn, Frisco and
Breckinridge. Jim Wolf’s route goes right through Silverthorn which also
has a hostel close to the trail. The “official” route passes about 10 miles
west of Silverthorn, near Frisco which has a post office.
Copper Mountain Ski Area – is also on the trail. It has a VERY small
grocery, a post office and several restaurants. There was a pizza bar/deli
that was reasonable across from the grocery, right by the trail. But you’ll
need to keep moving to find a place to camp. This isn’t a place to stay
unless you’re independently wealthy.
Note: none of the northern Colorado towns are hard to get around – many
have free public transportation. All of them provide ample services for
resupply and equipment replacement. All of them are expensive.
Twin Lakes, CO – is 3 to 6 miles from the trail, depending on which route
you take. There’s a very small grocery with a post office in back, a couple
B&B’s, the Nordic Inn and 2 restaurants (one of
which is at the Nordic Inn). Don’t plan on resupply here except via
maildrop, but it’s a good place for an overnight stay if you can afford it.
There’s a small laundromat and motel 6 miles east.
Salida, CO – is a long, hard hitch out of Monarch Pass. It has all the
necessary services including an outdoor shop, supermarket, ATM, movie
theater and pharmacy but is really spread out. The commercial district is a
one-mile walk from the motels and most of the restaurants. That’s also
where the post office and library (with Internet access) are located. We
stayed at the Apple Grove Motel and the owner arranged a ride back to the
trail with one of the locals (for a price).
Lake City, CO -- is another long hitch from the trail and somewhat spread
out. Both groceries are small but can be used for resupply. The outdoor
shop has Coleman fuel (expensive) but isn’t really hiker oriented. There
are several B&B’s and restaurants, a post office and a laundromat, as well
as a campground.
Creede, CO – can be accessed from either San Luis Pass (11 mile walk) or by
a long hitch from Spring Creek Pass. There’s a grocery, post office,
outdoor shop, several restaurants and B&B’s, a hotel, motel, gas station,
theater and laundromat. Many of the restaurants and other businesses close
about the first of October. We walked out of Creede as part of the “Creede
cutoff”. It would probably be a hard hitch to get back to Spring Creek
Pagosa Springs, CO – is a relatively easy hitch from Wolf Creek Pass. The
town has all necessary services, although it’s really spread out. Like most
western towns, it’s built for people with cars. But there’s a laundromat,
goof outdoor shops, restaurants, motels, post office, large grocery, gas
stations a movie theater, a pharmacy and ATM’s. Pagosa also has hot springs
for those who are so inclined. We got a ride back to Wolf Creek Pass with a
friend – ask at the outdoor shop.
New Mexico –
Chama – is the first town in New Mexico for southbound CDT hikers and the
last for north-bound hikers. For those who are doing the road-walk to the
south (or come in that way), Chama is on the trail. For those who are doing
the CDTS route through the mountains, theeasiest access is from Cumbres Pass
in Colorado. It’s a 12 mile hitch and shouldn’t be hard, but traffic on the
road is light and it may be a while before the first car/truck comes along.
The Post Office is on 5th St somewhere in the middle (near Fosters Hotel)
and a bank with an ATM is close by. Fosters is a good restaurant, but
there are several good restaurants on the south end as well. A good grocery,
a campground with a laundromat, a mini-mart and several motels are also on
the south end of town. The north end of town has a laundromat and campground
about 0.75 mile north of Fosters Hotel. The problem with the town from a
hiker’s point of view is that it’s spread out over about 2.5 miles. We
stayed at the Chama Suites, which is entirely non-smoking and serves a free
breakfast. It was a really good stop for us – especially since the owners
drove us back to Cumbres Pass. We didn’t find Internet access in Chama.
Ghost Ranch – is a good place for a mail drop. If you hit it right, you
might be able to get a meal, a shower or a campsite. If not, they at least
have water, Coke and snack machines – and they will hold packages for
hikers. Contact them before you mail it though. When we got there, they
were in the middle of a conference and had no room, so we took our mail
drop, loaded up on Coke and snacks and kept on moving.
Cuba – is a town that CDT hikers walk into. Again, it’s spread out, but
only over about ¾ mile. The north end has a motel, laundromat, a couple
restaurants, and a mini-mart. The south end has several motels, a
laundromat, a couple restaurants, several mini-marts and the Post Office.
In between there are several small grocery stores and 2 fairly large
groceries. Internet access is at the library, which is about 1/3 mile east
of the Cuba Visitors Center. There is a hostel, but it is about 5 miles out
Grants – is another town that you can walk into. It has a Post Office on
3rd St with a VERY friendly clerk/Trail Angel (Michelle Ray) and a register.
On the main street (Santa Fe) there are a number of motels, several banks
with ATM’s, a Pizza Hut with an AYCE buffet at noon, a Chinese restaurant
with AYCE buffet and the Uranium Café which serves really good breakfasts.
A number of thruhikers in the last couple years have gotten violently ill
in Grants. There is no real ‘proof’ but the available evidence indicates
that the common denominator for the illness is the Pizza Hut. But not
everyone who eats there gets sick. ???? The grocery is Smith’s – about a
mile off Santa Fe, but you pass it on the left on the way into town on Lobo
Canyon Road. Internet access is available at the library. Again, the
problem with Grants is that it’s a Western town and is spread out. But the
best part of Grants is Tom and Donna Bombaci’s “hostel”, 10 mile out of town
on Lobo Canyon Road. If you’re south-bound, call from Cuba and Tom will give
you directions to get there from the trail. If you’re north-bound, call
from Pie Town or Quemado to let them know you’re coming and they may be able
to work something out for picking you up in Grants.
Pie Town, NM - has a post office, free camping at Jackson Park and the
Pie-O-Neer Café (which is closed on Monday and Tuesday). There are no other
services - not even a Coke machine in town. There is a public phone next to
the café. Pie Town is said to be very hiker friendly, with several Trail
Angels, but we got there at a time when none of them were available so we
can’t speak from personal experience.
Quemado, NM - we didn’t go there but we’ve heard that it’s a good stop. But
it’s also a hard hitch.
Reserve, NM - was a really tough 35 mile hitch from the “official” CDT.
There are 2 motels, several restaurants (some or which are closed on Monday
and Tuesday), a laundromat, a bar (the only source for beer in town), 2
small groceries and Internet access at the small library in the Village
hall. The town is spread out but not unreasonably so. The Village Motel
and Elk Country Café are at the south end of town, the library is up the
hill behind the high school (ask for directions) and the Forest Service
office is 2 miles west of town on NM 12. Everything else is in the main
part of town. We thought the best hamburger in town was at the Elk Country
Café (they also have good pizza). Grandma T’s at the other end of town was a
good place for breakfast. We got a ride back to the trailhead from the
owner of the Village Motel - it could be a tough hitch back out there.
Gila Cliff Dwellings Visitor Center - has restrooms and water and will hold
packages for hikers. But it has no trash collection so you’re dependent on
the rangers or on the kindness of tourists to dispose of your maildrop
packaging. There are no other services here.
Gila Hot Springs - is 3 miles south of the Gila Visitor Center. Doc
Campbell’s Trading Post has a small grocery, microwave sandwiches, home-made
ice cream, unleaded gasoline, water and a phone. It also has showers and a
laundromat in back (ask about these). There are a couple of campgrounds
nearby and a mile south of the Trading Post on Access Road is the Wilderness
Lodge B&B with reasonable prices (breakfast included) comfortable beds and
a hot spring in the front yard.
Deming, NM - was a pleasant surprise. The town is spread out, but the
essential hiker services are all in a fairly compact area. The post office,
a couple motels, a couple laundromats, several convenience stores, 2 big
supermarkets, a number of restaurants, a bar, gas stations, an ATM, a
pharmacy and the library (with Internet access) are within 6 blocks of the
center of town. Deming also has both Greyhound and Amtrak service, as well
as being directly on US I-10.
Columbus, NM - is small. It has a post office, a motel, 2 B&B’s (one of
them a couple miles outside of town), a couple restaurants, a small grocery,
a library with Internet access and a gas station/convenience store. It may
have a laundromat (if you can find it). It also has camping, water and
showers at Pancho Villa State Park. Columbus is just 3 miles from the border
and Palomas, Mexico. If you’re southbound, Palomas is a good place to have
a beer and possibly a meal. It’s an easy hitch back to Columbus or Deming.
For the other route ---
Silver City, NM - we didn’t stay there, but we did check it out at a later
time. This is a relatively large town with all services available including
an outdoor shop and hostel. Like most Western towns it’s spread out and not
particularly easy for hikers to work with.
Separ – is on I-10 and has a gas station/convenience store, a restaurant and
Hachita – has the Egg Nest, which provides meals, very limited groceries,
camping, showers, fuel, Internet access and shuttles. They will also hold
packages for hikers. (Pat & Marlene Harris – 505.436.2666 )
Antelope Wells - has been used as a southern terminus for the CDT by a
number of hikers, but apparently is no longer the “official” terminus. The
“official” terminus is apparently some large number of miles (more than 10?)
east of Antelope Wells along the border fence. There are no services at
Antelope Wells except a water faucet. There are NO services and presumably
no road access to the “official” terminus.
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